Shedd Aquarium


Shedd Aquarium is my favorite place to take the kids in Chicago. With 32,000 animals including beluga whales and dolphins to penguins and, of course, sharks, Shedd is one of the best aquariums in the country.

You can see the top highlights at Shedd in just a few hours with some planning, although I'd encourage you to spend a full day and take your time to really get to enjoy the aquarium if you have the opportunity. In my book, there's nothing you're going to do in the afternoon that will beat a few more hours at the aquarium.

Note that admission prices now include access to everything at Shedd except for a few obvious extras like the 4-D theater and feeding stingrays.

Top Tips

  • Shedd is undergoing big changes as part of their Centennial Commitment, with construction currently planned to go through 2026. New spaces and exhibits will be opening during that time, but some regular exhibits may also be inaccessible during that time.
  • Amazon Rising is currently closed, expected to reopen during Summer 2024, but there's not a more detailed timeline available yet.
  • In addition to my favorite, the Wild Reef, top exhibits are Amazon Rising, underwater viewing and penguins, and the aquatic presentation (the show that will usually—but not always—have dolphins). In the summer, Stingray Touch is also very fun.
  • Be at lunch no later than 11:30. The cafeteria will get crowded, even on less busy days.
  • Stingray Touch (which is seasonal, roughly Memorial Day to Labor Day) closes for heavy rain. It's a great experience so plan around the weather if the forecast looks concerning. Feeding the stingrays is only available before 11, but the touch portion is available all day.


Weekdays: 9am-5pm
Weekends: 9am-6pm

Mid-June to Mid-August are 9am-6pm every day, sometimes staying open later, especially for Jazzin' at the Shedd on Wednesdays.

See the Shedd calendar for exact hours on each day.


Shedd has variable pricing, meaning prices go up on busier days. You can save money by visiting on less busy days and times, or by booking well in advance (tickets become available around 2 months ahead).
Adults range from around $37 to $42.
Kids are roughly $10 cheaper than adults.
Children 2 and under are free.

For Chicago residents prices are discounted (and fixed): Adults are $19.95 and kids are $14.95.